Yankees mourn death of pitching guru Connors

June 20th, 2018

NEW YORK -- Billy Connors, a longtime pitching coach and executive who pitched for the Cubs and Mets, died on Monday. He was 76.

The Yankees observed a moment of silence prior to Wednesday's game against the Mariners in memory of Connors, who served three stints as the club's pitching coach (1989-90, 1994-95 and 2000).

"The Yankees organization mourns the passing of Billy Connors, who was a close and trusted friend of my family for many years," Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.

"Since joining the Yankees at the conclusion of the 1988 season, Billy contributed to the organization in countless ways over his long career as a pitching coach, executive and advisor. On behalf of the Yankees and the Steinbrenner family, I extend our deepest condolences to Billy's family, friends and loved ones."

Based in the Tampa, Fla., area, Connors also served as the club's vice president of player personnel from 1996-2012, tasked to work with young pitchers -- frequently at the direction of late principal owner George M. Steinbrenner.

Born in Schenectady, N.Y., Connors was on the team that won the 1954 Little League World Series. He attended Syracuse University and made it to the Majors with the Cubs in 1966, pitching in 11 games.

Connors made 14 relief appearances and one start for the Mets over the 1967-68 seasons, finishing his big league career with an 0-2 record and 7.53 ERA.

After retiring, Connors became a Minor League pitching instructor for the Mets. He also worked for the Royals, Cubs, Mariners and Phillies, spending 17 years on big league coaching staffs.

During his time in the Yankees organization, Connors is credited with helping the careers of many notable pitchers, including Dwight Gooden, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

"He is our true pitching guru," George M. Steinbrenner once said of Connors. "He always has been and always will be."